Tamiya Bell X1 ‘Glamorous Glennis’

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On the 14th October 1947 Chuck Yeager was the first pilot to break the sound barrier in ‘Glamorous Glennis’. Glennis was a Bell X-1; a prototypical rocket powered aircraft built by Bell Aircraft in conjunction with the U.S Air Force as a research project into super sonic flight.

With cars, a lot of technology we see in today’s road cars have stemmed from pushing the absolute limits in race cars. The same can be said with aircraft. Without the work of Bell Aircraft on this project we would not have seen the likes of Concorde, the super sonic commercial jet and fighter aircraft capable of super sonic speed are able to intercept potential threats quickly keeping us safe.

Pioneers of hobby grade RC cars and trucks Tamiya produced this 1:72 kit of the Bell X-1. You can get yours from Amazon here: U.S.A.F Bell X-1 Mach Buster – 1:72 Scale Aircraft – Tamiya


This is quite an unusual kit on the fact that it also comes with a clear fuselage and full interior detail. So if you wanted to an x-ray/ cut away of the plane you could! Tamiya also provided the details and plans not only for Glennis but for 3 other variations of the Bell X-1 that flew at a later date.

I may have to do the exposed interior variant at some point when I think my modelling will be able to do it justice, but for now I’m focusing on Glennis as a standard kit. That meant painting everything orange!


As per usual I’m using Halfords acrylic aerosol for the model. It was primed in white primer and the orange is Peugeot Seville Orange. Both sides of the parts sprue were top coated but I only top coated the outside of the fuselage sprue. This is because the inside of the aircraft was a greenish grey colour. Although I’m not doing the full interior I will be doing the cockpit. So it was important I painted the inside of the cockpit area of the fuselage before continuing.


I find it easiest to paint detail whilst the parts are still on the sprue before assembly. I find that generally with small parts like a cockpit once it’s together it can be very hard to get a brush in to get all the details. As per usual all detail done with Vallejo paints.

Once together the cockpit looks like this. This one wouldn’t have been too bad to paint after building as the gauge cluster is attached to the fuselage rather than the cockpit base itself.


Mounted to the fuselage it looks like this! Note the silver connections for the gauges on the back of the instrument cluster. If I was a more patient man there would be little beads of coloured cotton coming from each connection to represent the wiring harness. I don’t think my modelling skills would be up for that yet though haha!


The orange cylinder behind the cockpit houses a small metal ball that acts as a weight to stop the aircraft falling on it’s bum when standing. Without it the plane would be tail heavy.


The exhausts can go in the back of the fuselage and then the two halves can go together!


The two halves are together! There is an access panel for the pilot to get in and out on the right hand side. I’m leaving this open so you can still look in to see the cockpit. Once the canopies are on aeroplanes you normally can’t see anything inside haha!


That will have to come later though. The landing gear needs to go on first! The forward gear is a folding unit much akin to that on a modern commercial jet but the rear wheels are sort of on a wishbone set up more like what you would find on a car than a plane. The inner wheel wells and the inside the landing gear doors are painted a darker shade of green grey.


The canopy went on next! Canopies are a difficult thing to make look right and I certainly haven’t mastered that art haha! I’ve tried using thin vinyl strips before but the best way I’ve found has been to use a very small paint brush and do the stripes very slowly! At least with black it only needs one coat!


The wings, horizontal stabilisers and aerials marked the end of the actual build. Find some stuff that’s the same height as your wings and horizontal stabilisers so they can prop the parts up as the glue is drying.


Last but not least were the decals. These feel a much higher quality than the decals I normally use. They aren’t thick and difficult to shape but they aren’t so thin they feel fragile. As expected from a company such as Tamiya I suppose. So here she is! Glamorous Glennis in all her glory!


All in all it’s a lovely little model! The amount of variations in one box makes it tempting to do more than one of these haha and I’m sure I will in time! There are more parts than your typical Airfix starter plane but I wouldn’t let that put you off if you’ve never made one before as Tamiya tooling is fantastic and the aircraft needs little to no work to get to fit together nicely.

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